In the last few years, my husband and I have traveled around the country and in many parts of the world to do countless speaking engagement about chess. One of the most popular questions in these sessions is about how to promote chess, find sponsors, and get the media to be interested in covering chess.
Our answers have always been the same. We are chess players and we promote chess and all its benefits. So the best way is to approach this the same way as you approach a chess game.
There are 3 major phases in a chess game: Opening, middlegame, and endgame. These are the same three steps in dealing with promoting chess, finding sponsors, and working with the media.
You have to do your homework. What it means is you have to canvas the area where you live or where you want to expand chess. Get to know the school districts, local universities or colleges, local government, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, local businesses, local TV and Radio stations, local newspapers, etc.
Now that you have located the potential people you would like to approach, find the common appeal between the two parties. You just cannot count on their generosity. This will not work. You need to find the right angle to approach anyone.
For example, a local bank may spend $50,000 a year in marketing, promotion and advertising. They are hoping to get a certain result to boost their business. However, if you can show them that for $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, or whatever amount you are aiming for, they can get so much more good results for their money by sponsoring your chess club, tournaments or events. In exchange for their sponsorship, you would give them X amount of publicity in the community, the region, or state, which is much more cost effective than just generic advertisement. In addition, they would look good by sponsoring and supporting a worthwhile cause.
Just remember, this is just one example. Each business, each company, each organization is all different. There is no one size fits all. Just like in a chess game, finding the right strategy will help you achieve the results you are looking for. This is a real life chess game.
Now that you have succeeded in canvassing the targets, creating the brilliant strategy to approach these targets, and successfully convincing them to be involved with what you do, the endgame is to make sure you give them more than what they bargain for and continue to follow up afterward. If they are happy with the results, they will most likely be involved again. You want to seal the deal right.
In a chess game, if you brilliantly played in the opening, executed the middlegame strategy flawlessly, but cannot seal the deal in the endgame, that full point will escape you. You may end up with just ½ point and sometimes even zero!
Remember, do not approach this matter with the mentality of looking for a charity. Chess is a wonderful and popular game. The benefits of chess for people of all ages are well known. This is a very good angle to present to anyone. Approach it as if you would with any business. You have something good to offer in exchange for their support. It is a win win situation for both sides. It is up to you to present it in a winning way.
I would like to give you a personal example of chess in Lubbock, Texas. Since I arrived in this city at the end of August last year, with the help of many friends and supporters right here at Texas Tech University, we contacted the Mayor’s Office, the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Commissioner, a number of local businesses, a number of departments at Texas Tech University, including the Office of the Provost, Chancellor, and President, etc., Region 17, Lubbock Independent School District, local foundations, local TV networks, newspapers, radio stations, as well as supporters of SPICE and the SPF, etc.
We followed the exact steps I listed above. Not even a single place turned down the opportunity to help SPICE. Some offered in-kind donations while others offer cash, other prizes, or scholarships. This is why we were able to pull off the 1st annual SPICE Cup and so many more incredible events, including the category 14 2nd annual SPICE Cup in September 2008.
It does work when you follow these steps. We are chess players so let’s use our chess minds to succeed in what we want to accomplish. I hope that these tips will help you with getting help for chess in your area. Good luck!